Recommended Accommodation: NH Amsterdam Schiller – this hotel is in an ancient building directly on Rembrandtplein, which hosts one of the city Christmas markets – something not to be missed!
Just one week after my first Christmas impression of Amsterdam, I was back, this time to take a flight home to Canada for Christmas. Luckily this time I had more than 12 hours to explore the city, and after checking in at the NH Schiller hotel, a delightful old-style hotel on Rembrandtplein, I took a little tour around the Christmas market directly below my room. It was similar to the German markets; wooden stalls cheerily decorated with fir boughs and lights, however the goods pedaled are a little more. . . Dutch. The Fiskebaren stand, for your fix of deep fried seafood, a cheese shop (of course), and stroopwafels – caramel-filled wafer cookies to be enjoyed with tea and coffee.
As it wasn’t raining, a small miracle in the Netherlands in December, I walked over to 1953 Retro & Chic on Staalstraat, housing a great collection of dresses, scarves, jewellery, and shoes, the perfect place for finding a statement piece or an upscale Halloween costume.
For those who like vintage and consignment, Amsterdam is a positive goldmine for these shops and you can find numerous outlets scattered around the city. Continuing on, I wanted to buy some Christmas sweets for the people back home – so I headed to Lanskroon bakery, one of the oldest and most beloved bakeries in Amsterdam. Inside, you can find delectable cakes, breads, and cookies, however most things are not very transportable unfortunately.
In the Museum district, there is a much larger Christmas market and an ice skating rink – quite hilarious, since it was 12 degrees outside and the rink was more of a puddle than anything else. The Van Gogh museum is FINALLY done construction and line-ups to get in are much more orderly then the last time I visited.
That evening, after some pre-trip research, I headed to Ron Gastrobar, a brainchild of chef Ron Blaauw who decided a few years ago to hand in his Michelin stars and create a restaurant with more casual and accessible food (and prices). The menu is entirely composed of small plates, each 15 euro, which adds up but still certainly more reasonable then your typical Michelin star place (the restaurant, following the change, has once again been awarded 1 star).
Menu at Ron Gastrobar
I tried “ham from the garden” – a plate of thinly sliced local ham, reminiscent of jamon from spain, served with pickles and bread. Bread here is not just bread – it’s served with soft butter topped with DEEP FRIED bacon and whisky-soaked pickles. Wowsers. Next, I tried the BBQ squid, served with fregola pasta, bouillabaisse sauce and salami crumble. Interesting food and a great atmosphere. The mini ice cream cones delivered with your bill are fun as well 🙂
I enjoyed one last stroll around Rembrandtplein in the evening before leaving from Schipol airport in the morning for frigid Canadian winter, a good 30 degree temperature change from the warm winter in the Netherlands!